“Inside the [Chicago] Reader, the most painful piece of the Crain’s story was the $3 million price tag,” writes the Reader‘s Michael Miner of the reported sale to Chicago Sun-Times parent company Wrapports LLC.
Miner talked to investment banker Brad Bulkley, who was hired by Atalaya Capital Management to find suitors for the papers it acquired as a result of the Creative Loafing bankruptcy:
“You’re worth more than $3 million, but time’s are tough,” Bulkley said, and asked me to look on the bright side … “I will tell you this. The price we wound up getting is over four times where the prices started with several suitors.” They bid each other up? “They did, and we worked them up. They assumed it to be a fire sale and it wasn’t.” Thanks to investments Atalaya made in the Reader, the suitors were bidding on a profitable weekly paper.
Earlier, Miner wrote of Michael Ferro, the venture capitalist who is chairman of Wrapports LLC:
For better or worse, Ferro regards himself as visionary: Marek quoted him as declaring in January, at an event held by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “I’m very excited to meet all these different mayors in other cities because my plan is to acquire their publications in a lot of their cities today and keep newspapers alive in America.”
The Reader employs very talented journalists who do important, thoughtful work — explanatory and investigative. If this deal goes through, I hope the new owners recognize that these stories are as much a part of the Reader brand as its “arts, culture, restaurant and entertainment” coverage, and somehow preserve what’s left of the paper’s “alternative” style while incorporating it into the mainstream Wrapports family.
“There aren’t many examples of companies owning dailies and alts in the same town,” says Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon (formerly of Washington City Paper, for which Atalaya is also seeking a buyer). “The Reader would bristle at being characterized as an entertainment paper. One of its primary roles, as at many alt-weeklies, is reporting on the city’s media, including the Sun-Times.”